Thursday, December 21, 2006

Questions on Marana Hohokam site stall Continental Ranch development plan

[Source: Aaron Mackey, Arizona Daily Star] -- Plans to build condominiums near Continental Ranch are stalled while Marana officials and the project's developers wrangle over what to do with ancient Hohokam burial sites discovered on the property. Town officials and developers agree that the location contains artifacts that need to be protected before the condos can be built. The developers say they've already done enough work to remove artifacts and human remains from the property, but town officials disagree. Town archaeologist Su Benaron said the firm hired to conduct an initial survey of the area over the summer didn't do an adequate job of searching for burial sites, according to town letters and e-mails. The company also failed to dig deep enough to find all archaeological features, Benaron said.

An independent archaeological firm hired by the town of Marana later confirmed Benaron's findings. But the archaeological firm originally hired by the developers counters that it did all the digging required by state law and that the town is being unreasonable. The town won't approve construction of the project until all the burial sites have been removed and another survey has been conducted. As a compromise, Town Attorney Frank Cassidy proposed that the developer pay the town $235,000 for another archaeology firm to complete the work deemed necessary by the town. But the settlement was voted down 4-3 last week by the Marana Town Council, leaving both sides back at the same impasse. Richard M. Rollman, a Tucson attorney who represents the developers, wouldn't comment on what his clients plan to do next but said they want to resolve the matter quickly. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]